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Rainy Night in the Bell Tent

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Rainy Night in the Bell Tent


Published October 14, 2005


A selection of folk tunes from Brittany, France, Corsica, Ukraine, Armenia, Ireland, Wales, etc. recorded spontaneously by the nomadic Dongas Tribe in a bell tent in woods at Ventongimps near Perranzabuloe in Cornwall one rainy night in autumn 1997. This is the best recording known to exist of the Cornwall-period Dongas.


Source analog cassette (2nd generation)
Run time 59:20
Label / Recorded by MRW and Howie

Notes


Ruth – fiddle
Jo – wooden flute, melodeon, recorder
Stef – mandolin (and possibly bouzouki)
Inge – mandolin, percussion
Matthewsaz (and possibly percussion)
Howie – percussion (and possibly octave mandola)
Colin – percussion
Josh – percussion

This was originally recorded onto high-quality chrome cassette via Howie's professional-quality handheld cassette recorder. Unfortunately, that tape either got lost in the post, or is languishing amongst Funkey's millions of tapes in Sint-Niklaas. However, Ruth did make a copy (not brilliant quality) shortly after the original recording, which remained with our friend Stevie P in Glastonbury until recently.

These second generation recordings have been tidied up with a bit of digital processing and a few little splices.

Colin, Ruth, Inge, Jo and Matthew playing at Roskilly's on The Lizard
Colin, Ruth, Inge, Jo and Matthew playing at Roskilly's on The Lizard, probably summer 1998

The first tune, (according to Pierre Amadio) is "La Valse à Ollu", or a variation on it.

Stef taught everyone the three Corsican tunes he picked up when visiting Corsica (he's half Corsican).

We're not sure where the two mazurkas are from (we used to refer to them as "Sonny's Mazurka" and the "Fubu Mazurka").

At the time we believed track 8 to be Transylvanian, but we've since been reliably informed that it's "Jump at the Sun" by John Kirkpatrick. The Tofu Love Frogs used to sing a daft song about Mother Teresa to this melody.

"Ambee Dagez" is traditional Armenian. Selena introduced us to that one a few weeks earlier.

"The Man in the Brown Hat" is a tune we knew via Blowzabella (Cliff Stapleton – who some of us would end up playing with – wrote it).

The hanter dro and an dro's are from Brittany.

Tracks 13–17 are all traditional Irish. Inge and Matthew had been travelling around Ireland for some time prior to this autumn, and had been playing a lot of Irish tunes (which Ruth and Jo also knew). "Farewell to Erin" is a bit rushed and sloppy, but worth including in the collection. [Definitely worth including, it turns out, as this has since been put to perfect use as the soundtrack to an amusing little Finnish computer game called "Druid Soccer" (which involves megalithic monuments!)...the hecticness of our playing is perfectly suited to lend an appropriate cartoonish zaniness to the proceedings.]

If you have any more accurate information about any of these tunes, please get in touch

The rain on the bell tent can be heard at the beginnings and ends of some pieces (and throughout the last piece, which is just Jo playing wooden flute). As Stevie P pointed out, this makes it sound rather like old vinyl – nice.

Josh can be heard jokingly asking "Has anyone got a djembe I can play?" at the beginning of one piece. Stef can be heard asking "What's the dance to that one, then?" at the end of the penultimate piece.

Ruth ended up playing in a group called "Zabalka" with Rory McLeod some years later. Jo became part of Red Dog Green Dog. Stef became part of The Mordekkers in West Wales. Inge started a band called "Farat el Moultazov" in Southern France. Matthew was involved in setting up an improvisation collective in Exeter called Children of the Drone, and continued occasionally recording with Inge as Ail Fionn. Colin took up the hurdy-gurdy and carried on doing his Colin thing in rural France. Josh launched a career as a costumed one-hand-whistle-and-drum-playing minstrel. Howie turned to Jesus.


The bell tent, in Bosahan Woods near Constantine, our next camp after Ventongimps
The bell tent, in Bosahan Woods near Constantine, our next camp after Ventongimps (Colin is visible)


The Spring – Matthew's 'audio blog'          contact: mwatkins@maths.ex.ac.uk

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Reviews

Reviewer: Pavlovafowl - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 11, 2011
Subject: Tastes as good as it sounds!
I love all these pieces, they have a rich, depth of texture redolent of so many cultures and time-periods and the live recording but adds to this. Recently, when I was making an animation on organic Plum Pudding, I found 'The Lark in the Morning' absolutely perfect to convey both the pace and the spirit of the film. Thanks so much for uploading this great music and making it available for our enjoyment, dancing and inspiration!
To view 'Slow Food - Hasty Pudding' with music from the Dongas Tribe, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/Pavlovafowl
Reviewer: babysprite - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 11, 2009
Subject: If Maw-Maw Cavanaugh were here ...
you'd not be able to keep her off her feet. She and my mother are from Ireland and the both loved to dance.This is genuine traditional music played the old way. I had a hard time keeping still, myself.
Reviewer: MicroMusee - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 8, 2008
Subject: Title "Unknown"
This tune is called the wedding Jig, it is featured as the tune the fairies play in Midsummer nights dream the latest film version, also It is on Altan the first years CD. I think you can get the Dots on the session Website. Also one of that Mazukas I know as Sonnys Mazurka and that should also be available on the sessions website, and yes although many of the tune are not native to England we must not miss out that ones that are, English folk needs a boost sometimes. This music is good though becuase its raw, that is what is best about traditional music.
Reviewer: drumaker - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 11, 2007
Subject: Crossing cultural, geographic and age boundaries
The world is a better place because of wonderful musicians like the Dongas Tribe, a group of young folks who make music anywhere, any time because it's in their hearts. The recordings in this file were made in a tent! And yet, the music gives you the feel of being there joyfully listening in to people who live to entertain you, in the fashion of Celtic bards. Their other files are equally fantastic, and I encourage you to give a listen. I can see one problem: I don't have enough hard disk space to hold all of the wonderful music from these talented and dedicated artists!
Reviewer: Jim Didge - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 29, 2006
Subject: I can almost smell the smoke
This is a charming collection of rough, warm and friendly tunes. It reminds me of the sort of life I used to lead in Australia. Shacks and tipis, busses and bedfords, forest actions and festivals.
Thanks for sharing this.
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Matthew Watkins
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